The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘A Painful Gut Punch’ for MSNBC

Posted on | March 27, 2019 | Comments Off on ‘A Painful Gut Punch’ for MSNBC


For 675 days of the Mueller investigation, Rachel Maddow enjoyed her best-ever ratings, promising her audience of angry Democrats that the special counsel would soon rid America of the unwelcome presidency of Donald J. Trump. For MSNBC viewers, the result was a catastrophe:

Last Friday, Robert Mueller turned over the results of his titanic Trump investigation to Attorney General William Barr, and on Sunday, Barr released a summary of the report that was a painful gut punch to a vast swath of MSNBC’s liberal audience. The key sentence: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” . . .
In the face of this near-catastrophic setback, the MSNBC resistance bravely soldiered on. On the air that night, Ari Melber engaged in a spirited grilling of Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. Legal analyst Neal Katyal cautioned Chris Hayes not to view Barr as the final word on whether Donald Trump obstructed justice. Lawrence O’Donnell emphasized that “no one in the news media . . . has read a single sentence of the Mueller report.” Rachel Maddow, hands down one of the Mueller saga’s most voracious and detail-oriented chroniclers, kicked off her show with a monologue diving into 15 questions the Barr report left her with. “You knew it was gonna be this kind of night, didn’t you?” she began. . . .
“There was an omnipresent awareness that this was, strategically, a very important story for us,” one source said. “There was no market for skepticism about it. As a business model, they see the ratings, and we were getting rewarded for this every day. When we had a slow day, it was kind of like: when in doubt, call the lawyers on; call the F.B.I. people.” . . .
For MSNBC, what next? “There are shows that built their identity around this,” a journalist there told me. “Where does that go?”

One night in a casino in Wheeling, West Virginia, I shoved all-in on a full house. How could I lose? Then the other guy turned over four of a kind.

Disappointment is too mild a word for what that felt like. Of all the times I’ve ever busted out of a poker game, I’d never lost on a full house, and how often do you see quads in Texas Hold ’Em? Probably that’s what Maddow and the rest of the MSNBC gang felt when Mueller wrapped up his investigation without any further indictments and without finding any evidence of “Russian collusion” by the Trump campaign.

They had bought into the bogus narrative, sold to them by Clinton cronies like Sidney Blumenthal, that Trump’s election was inherently illegitimate, that various Russian shenanigans in the campaign (e.g., the hacking of DNC emails) had cheated Hillary out of her victory. Having assumed this as fact, and equally certain that various shady people associated with Trump must have been in on this Russian meddling, it seemed obvious to MSNBC viewers that Mueller would find proof of Trump’s guilt and then — poof!Orange Man Bad would be gone. Anyone who expressed doubt about this narrative was dismissed as a right-wing stooge of the evil Trump regime, and this cult mentality (to call it what it was, and is) made it possible to ignore all the evidence that contradicted the narrative.

The weird provenance of the Steele dossier? The damning text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page? The fact that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the central figure in the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, was evidently in cahoots with Fusion GPS, the Clinton-connected firm which commissioned the dossier? There was something distinctly fishy about all this, and I was not the first to discern that the Mueller investigation looked suspiciously like a cover-up, intended to conceal, obscure and/or distract from what looked very much like a scheme by the Clinton campaign, assisted by Obama administration officials, to entrap Trump campaign officials in a phony scandal. If the “Russian collusion” narrative was actually a Democrat false-flag operation, and Mueller’s investigation was actually intended to bury evidence of that scheme, then there never was any real “collusion” and, ergo, it would be impossible to produce evidence of a conspiracy that never existed.

All such doubts about the Mueller probe, however obvious they might have been to anyone who paid attention and was willing to consider the possibility that Trump was innocent of “collusion,” were forbidden within the ideological bubble where Rachel Maddow and other MSNBC personnel have been operating in isolation the past two years. Certainty of Trump’s guilt was mandatory among Democrats, and trying to talk sense to them was like trying to explain to Stalin-era commissars that Lysenkoism was scientifically invalid. So they shoved all-in on Mueller, the way I once bet my stack on a full house, and now they’re flat busted.

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi collects their chips:

Members of the media like [MSNBC’s Chris] Matthews spent two years speaking of Mueller in mythical tones, hyping him as the savior who was pushing those “walls” that were forever said to be “closing in” on Trump. Mueller, it was repeatedly said, was helping bring about “the beginning of the end.”
Over and over, audiences were told the investigation had hit a “turning point,” after which Trump would either resign or be impeached, because as Brian Williams put it, summarizing a guest’s take, “Donald Trump is done.”
This manipulative brand of news programming preyed upon the emotional devastation of liberal audiences, particularly the older people who watch cable. It told them the horror they felt over Trump’s election would be alleviated in short order. The median age of the CNN viewer is 60 and MSNBC’s is 65, and these people were urged for years to place their trust in [Mueller], who knew all and whose investigation would surely lead to impeachment and “the end.”
All you had to do was keep tuning in, because the good news could come any minute now! The bombshell is coming! Never mind that this is causing our profits to soar. Don’t wonder about our motives, even though outlets like MSNBC saw a 62 percent bump in viewership in the first full year of Russiagate coverage. Just keep tuning in. The walls are closing in!

(Hat-tip: Instapundit.) It’s kind of weird to see someone like Taibbi, who spent years in the left-wing swamp of Bush-era moonbattery, be the one to call out his fellow leftists on this. I suppose that, like conservatives chastened by the blunders in Iraq, Taibbi understands how important it is to call out the Elmer Gantry charlatans who’ve led the flock astray. Just as no conservative can ever trust Max Boot again, so also has Maddow blown her credibility on the Left by wagering everything on “Russia! Russia! Russia!” But I suppose most leftists are too stupid to understand how they’ve been hustled. After all, if they weren’t stupid, they never would have voted for Hillary, would they? Selah.



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